While it may not feel like it yet, fall is right around the corner. Pumpkin patches are getting ready for the season. This year’s crop around Kansas is looking promising thanks to prime growing conditions. Pumpkins are a warm weather crop and do not do well with colder temperatures. They need sufficient water early in the growing process, but do fine under stress if entered into a dry stretch through the summer. The intense heat also does not phase a pumpkin as its leaves provide shade on the ground.
Since the crop is generally planted in late May and early June, I took a look at rainfall totals across the state at that time. South central Kansas saw plenty of rain in this stretch. Those out west were slightly drier than average.
Local growers say that plenty of moisture early this summer promoted incredibly healthy and abundant yields in south central Kansas. Granny Mae’s Pumpkin Patch in Dorrance says they also have a great crop this year. Conditions were too wet for them to plant early, but after a few weeks and drier conditions took over, they were able to start a nice and healthy crop.
Cedar Creek Farm in Maize says this is the best crop they have had in their three years of growing pumpkins. Last year was way too dry in the early stages of the growing period and yielded a terrible crop for them. They now have 6 and a half acres to pick from and plenty of family friendly activities this season. The farm opens Sept. 18.
Walters’ Farm in Burns says they have a great looking crop as well this year! With more than 30 acres, their pumpkins come in all shapes and sizes. Due to planting a few weeks later this year, size is slightly impacted if you are searching for the giant variety. They also open September 18 and say there is plenty to do for the entire family. Both Cedar Creek and Walters’ have plenty of gourds and squash to choose from, too.
Pumpkin Paradise LLC in Sublette says they watered early in the season which benefited during a stressful summer. Their crop looks really good right now. Rain late in the season helped finish off the crop. Growers plant in late May to early June to have the best looking crop by early October. Only female flowers develop the fruit and require pollination from the more abundant male flower. Bees generally help this process. Once you pick your pumpkin, it is best to leave it in the shade to preserve its vibrant qualities.
An interesting thing to note – our scorching summer heat may have shriveled the leaves and vines in the day, but retained plenty of water to look healthy by the next morning.
Now we just need some cooler weather! What is your favorite pumpkin patch to visit this time of year? Let me know by sending a tweet or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
-Meteorologist Warren Sears